Sunday, April 9, 2017

#100daysofwriting: day 6- experiments with coffee

I decided to give up coffee for the month of April. I do this at least twice each year (spring and fall), mainly to give my adrenals and thyroid a well-deserved break but also to practice restraint and build in a disruption of habit, a piece of spiritual practice.

I didn't start drinking coffee regularly until about 3 years ago. I had always been a huge herbal tea fan. I am still a huge fan of teas, mostly herbals, adding lemon & honey occasionally. For me, a hot drink in the morning signified a waking up, a connection to self, and is now an everyday ritual. At the end of each day, you'll find me with a cup of chamomile tea and my book on my night stand. Hot drinks bookend my life. Living in cold climates, it was essential.

Of course, living in the coffee mecca exposed me to some really good cups of brew and slowly over time, it replaced my morning hot tea. I will say, I don't suffer from the severe withdrawal symptoms of mind numbing headaches when I give it up but there are moments in the year when I know it's time. It's time to take a break when I listen deeply and hear that my body needs a break. That the coffee has become the only fuel to get me going. When one cup doesn't cut it anymore. I truly feel addiction is a charged word, and I don't know if get there, but I truly feel it within.

One of the yoga teachers I study with is a big fan of running "restraint experiments." He says we have to run these experiments to "get after ourselves to see who we truly are." I like his teachings because it can really be anything:

  • Alcohol, caffeine, sugar
  • Social media & mindless web browsing
  • Eating at our desk
  • Going to bed late
  • Letting the piles of paper or clothes pile up
When we commit to restraint or tyagin (Sanskrit for giving up), we can examine our life. We get to assess what serves us in our life or what doesn't serve us. It seems as though our culture doesn't necessarily naturally lead us to these questions, but it really is up to us. 

For me, there is a little bit of ego behind my restraint experiments and it comes from the, "Heck yes I can do that. It's a challenge and I am going to blow it out of the water!" And after a few days in, I feel really proud, but then something clicks and I realize that restraint is really about strengthening our own personal power in having choice. I will always have a choice as to my hot beverage, when I put in my body, what yoga poses I get into, what relationships I maintain, and my reactive emotional patterns. It's a ripple effect.

I encourage you to think about running your own small experiment and dive into this experientially so you can see for yourself. I think you might be pleasantly surprised. 

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